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Federer comfortable with gradual changes

By Agencies | China Daily | Updated: 2014-01-03 07:44

Roger Federer's new alliance with Stefan Edberg appears to be a sign he will adopt a more aggressive game in 2014, but the Swiss believes it will be tough to make changes in time for this month's Australian Open.

Federer's decision to bring Swede Edberg in to work alongside head coach Severin Luethi, along with a switch to a bigger racket, illustrates an unwillingness to accept how the world's top pair of Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic have been pounding him into submission from the baseline.

The former world No 1 has praised Edberg, renowned as one of the best volleyers in history, for helping him create angles to get to the net. But the fast pace of the courts at Melbourne Park might make him less inclined to use that ploy.

There was little sign of a more pronounced net-game in Federer's 6-4, 6-2 victory over Jarkko Nieminen at the Brisbane International on Wednesday and Nieminen was able to blast passing shots wide of him when the Swiss did come forward.

"I'm really trying to get used to conditions here because it's quite fast," top seed Federer said after winning at the Pat Rafter Arena.

"It's actually hard when somebody hits deep into the court, when you're half-volleying, to really come into the net so you want to almost do it on your terms.

"Using your serve would be an idea, or with a second-serve chip and charge, or within the first couple shots of a point," said the four-time Australian Open champion.

"On a slower court it's almost easier to tell yourself. 'I'm going to make my way to the net'."

Federer's childhood hero Edberg, also a former world No 1, will accompany the 17-time major winner on an occasional basis this year after agreeing to work with him this month.

"I've been practicing so much so it's really about learning what's been going well and not so well in the matches," said Federer.

The Australian Open, the first of the year's four Grand Slam events, begins on Jan 13.

Murray setback

Andy Murray, playing in his first tournament since back surgery in late September, was upset by Florian Mayer of Germany 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 in the second round of the Qatar Open on Wednesday.

Murray, seeded third, was leading 6-3, 3-0 when the 40th-ranked Mayer started to play more aggressively, going for winners on nearly every shot.

The German won 12 of the last 15 games. Murray hit 25 winners, but the reigning Wimbledon champ also had 37 unforced errors.

"I didn't have extremely high expectations because I obviously haven't played a match for a long time," Murray said. "You don't know exactly how your body will respond."

The past four times Murray played a tournament during the first week of the new season he captured the title: in 2008 and '09 at Doha and 2012 and '13 at Brisbane.


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